Athens hotels half empty in Olympic year

Last year’s Athens Olympics Games disappointed Greek hoteliers and figures from the Athens Hotel Association showed yesterday that the Games failed to generate the windfall revenues many had hoped for in 2004. Although Greek authorities are still to release exact tourist arrival figures for 2004, the association’s monthly newsletter said that occupancy rates for the capital’s hotels remained unchanged last year from the 2003 level, at about 50 percent. Occupancy rates The Games did generate the year’s highest occupancy rate, at about 77 percent during August, because the Games organizers had booked about 90 percent of the rooms in the Athens region for officials. But data showed a sharp slide in occupancy rates during the post-Olympics period. Tourism accounts for about 18 percent of Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP), and the government is aiming to increase that figure to 35-40 percent over the course of the next decade. In order to attract more tourists, the government launched a 30-million-euro advertising program promoting Greek attractions this year. The industry, which attracted just under 14 million tourists in 2003, employs around 800,000 people out of Greece’s 10 million population. (Reuters)

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